Central Texas News

Texas Book Festival is excited to announce Kids on Congress, an avenue at the annual Festival on October 27 and 28 packed with a variety of kids events and entertainment. Children’s book and author highlights include Kazu Kibuishi, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson, and Mary Pope Osborne. This year’s children’s author lineup also includes Jacqueline Woodson, Dan Santat and Minh Lê, Yuyi Morales, Megan McDonald, Sharon Draper, and Nathan Hale,

On Saturday, October 27, and Sunday, October 28, there will be an H-E-B Kids’ Reading Retreat, located at 9th and Congress, where young readers can find a quiet place in the middle of all the Festival hustle and bustle. East of 10th and Congress, children will be able to find the TAME Trailblazer, sponsored by Cirrus Logic. The trailer is a hands-on mobile science museum that travels all across Texas, encouraging students to explore and question the world they live in.

Kids can also travel the Festival with their own Passport guiding them through Kids on Congress. When they collect five or more signatures at each Passport session, kids will receive a coupon for a free tiny scoop of Amy’s Ice Cream.

Kids on Congress Tents will include the following:

The Read Me a Story Tent will feature stories read aloud every half hour by top authors, with illustrators creating picture books for younger readers. Highlighted authors include Arree Chung,Yuyi Morales, Jeff Smith, and more.

The Latinx Lit Tent will feature a bilingual storytime in English and Spanish with author Xavier Garza and a special conversation in Spanish for young readers with Yuyi Morales and Julissa Arce. The tent will also host a special presentation by this year’s winners of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award: Erika L. Sánchez, Celia C. Pérez, Xelena González, and Adriana Garcia.

The Next Chapter Tent will feature middle grade chapter book authors Sharon Draper, Megan McDonald, Soman Chainani, Hena Khan, Meg Medina, Mac Barnett, and many more, who will share their new stories and talk about writing in a kid’s imagination, enduring hard experiences at a young age, the fun of reading, and more.

New this year will be a big, brand new tent right in the center of the Festival, in partnership with Kirkus Reviews. This tent will be home to a ton of a great kids’ programming, including:

  • Saturday, 10:30-11:15 a.m., Carmela Full of Wishes with Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson

  • Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Nathan Hale’s Latest Tale: Lafayette

  • Saturday, 1:30-2:15 p.m., Drawn Together with Dan Santat and Minh Lê

  • Saturday, 2:30-3:15 p.m., Magic Tree House in Texas! with Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

  • Sunday, 12-12:45 p.m., (Don’t) Grow Up, David!

  • Sunday, 1:00-1:45 p.m., Friends Forever with Erin Entrada Kelly and Annie Barrows

In addition, the Festival will host two prominent authors for young readers at First United Methodist Church. CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Texas Sylvia Acevedo will present her memoir for young readers, Path to the Sky, on Saturday, October 27, at 11:30 a.m. Girl Scouts have the opportunity to earn a special Texas Book Festival patch. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jacqueline Woodson will present her two new books, Harbor Me, her first middle-grade novel since Brown Girl  Dreaming, and The Day You Begin, her new picture book, on Saturday, October 27, at 12:30 p.m.

The 2018 Texas Book Festival is co-presented by H-E-B and AT&T. Other major sponsors include Kirkus Reviews, Brigid Cockrum and Family, Tocker Foundation, Buena Vista Foundation, C-SPAN 2/Book TV, St. David’s HealthCare, Central Market, Texas Monthly, Austin American-Statesman, and Pentagram.

All events at Kids on Congress are free and open to the public. The complete schedule for the 2018 Texas Book Festival, taking place October 27 and 28, is available at www.texasbookfestival.org.

Penfold Theatre Company presents a live, murder mystery dinner experience, The Most Fateful Tragedy of the Brushy Creek Lovers: an Investigation Spiritual, for Valentine’s Day weekend only, February 16-18, at the Rabb House in Round Rock.

In the latter years of the 19th century, tragedy struck the banks of Brushy Creek. The locals will give you mixed accounts of the unfortunate events that befell a pair of young lovers that Valentine’s Day evening so many years ago, but one thing is certain: the house that stands there today is haunted. Under the oversight of a medium, you have been invited with a hand-chosen array of friends and neighbors to assist in the spiritual cleansing of the house. Events long buried will be uncovered. Take courage. Be vigilant. The subtlest whisper may be key to all.

The Most Fateful Tragedy… is penned and directed by Beth Burns, founder of Austin’s Hidden Room Theatre. Ms. Burns studied playwriting under Edward Albee; taught and performed at the world-famous Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles; and has directed Shakespeare productions for Hidden Room that have performed at Shakespeare’s Globe, Oxford University and the American Shakespeare Center. Now, she lends her extraordinary talents to create an evening of romance, mystery and the supernatural.

Inspiration for this thrilling live experience comes from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and the actual history of Williamson County. The creative team met with members Williamson Museum early in the process to achieve a hauntingly compelling storyline that rings true against the backdrop of the area’s pioneering years.

“This is going to be a tremendously fun and unique way to spend your Valentine’s Day weekend,” says Producing Artistic Director Ryan Crowder. “Most Fateful Tragedy is a mash-up of several dynamite theatrical elements: the lyric romance of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet; a fully immersive take on the theatrical murder mystery; dinner by our favorite chef, Vikki Bowen; and Beth Burn’s signature style of historical mysticism.”

In addition to the performance, guests will enjoy a full dinner and drinks from the bar, all included in the ticket price.

For the fourth year in a row, Pollyanna Theatre is remounting their highly acclaimed production for children and families about Civil Rights, Liberty! Equality! And Fireworks! by Gregory S. Perrin. The performance is free to the public on Saturday, February 17th at 2:00 pm at the LBJ Library Auditorium located at 2313 Red River Street. The play is best suited for children grades 3 – 7 and their families. This production is co-sponsored by the Education Department of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum and The University of Texas at Austin Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

This powerful play follows the field trip adventures of a group of 5th grade students who are visiting a history museum but are surprised by what happens when people from iconic images come to life and tell them their personal stories. These characters entertain and enlighten, taking the next generation of theatre goers on a fascinating journey through the Civil Rights Movement while introducing them to key concepts and conflicts found in our collective history.

LibertyEquality! And Fireworks! was written as a commission by award-winning playwright Gregory Perrin for Pollyanna Theatre Company. Perrin, a successful Texas playwright, studied with three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee, has received five different commissions to write plays for family audiences and was the inaugural playwright commissioned by Theater LaB Houston for the Fiesta First Ward Children’s Theater Project.

“History is important, but many of our children feel that it is boring because it has nothing to do with them. My goal is that the children seeing this play will leave with questions about what they have seen, which hopefully will lead to conversations with parents, grandparents, teachers and friends. These conversations – though difficult or unpleasant – need to happen,” says Perrin.

The unique partnership between Pollyanna Theatre and LBJ Library was sparked in 2014 after Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, Founder and Artistic Director of Pollyanna Theatre Company, and Gregory were invited to a Civil Rights Summit in 2014 at the Library, which was attended by former Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter. Judy ended up sitting next to Dr. Bernice King, the youngest child of the late Dr. Martin Luther King and an avid Civil Rights advocate who is also dedicated to education. Pollyanna later received an invitation to perform in the LBJ Auditorium from Mark Updegrove, the former director of the LBJ Library and Museum who saw the original production and participated in the post-show talkback. Pollyanna is thrilled to produce this show once again and deeply grateful for the support of their partners at the LBJ Presidential Library Education Department and The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (http://diversity.utexas.edu/).

Matetzschk-Campbell says, “Now more than ever, we as Americans, need to discuss great acts of political bravery from our past in order to inspire great acts of political bravery in our present and future. The first run of this production, which was presented in October of 2014, received a positive response from both the adult audience members and younger patrons. It is truly a production which will be enjoyed by all attendees ages eight through adulthood. The arts are a wonderful tool for parents and teachers to use to continue this timeless dialogue.”

The LBJ Library’s Education Department helped create educational resources to accompany the show, which are available free of charge, online and in print for all adults and students who attend the production. The materials explore the Civil Rights Movement and include recommendations on how to navigate children through this very important topic. For more information on LibertyEquality! And Fireworks! or Pollyanna Theatre Company, visit www.pollyannatheatrecompany.org.

1,400 years ago, Bilal, a seven-year-old boy, with a dream of becoming a great warrior, is abducted into slavery with his sister and taken to a land far away from his home and thrown into a world where corruption and injustice rule all. Throughout his life he undergoes many hardships, through which he discovers an inner strength he did not realize he possessed. Through these experiences, Bilal comes to realize that if he is brave enough to raise his voice and choose his own path – everything becomes possible. It is through his courage, that he frees himself and ultimately his community; it is through the power of his voice and faith that his lifelong dream of freedom comes true. Bilal grows into a man who will inspire the world.

Power Of One

The story “Bilal: A New Breed Of Hero” is inspired by the true events of the African slave Bilal ibn Rabah, a man whose story is similar to that of Martin Luther King Jr., who believed in the unity of mankind and equality of all people. Bilal used his gifted voice to speak out against injustices and took a stand for freedom despite the risks to his own life. Bilal, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others seeking equality throughout history inspire us all to find our inner power and take a stand for what we believe is right. They remind us of  “The Power of One” – the belief that one courageous person can make a difference in this world.  A reminder that if each and every person embraces their own inner power it can be manifested as a force for good.

Power of Voice. Power of Change. Power of Faith. Power of Freedom.

Power of Voice.

The story of Bilal shows us the importance of having the courage to step up within our communities as teachers and leaders. It inspires us to use our voice to guide others especially the voiceless. We too are called to use our voice to teach, help, and guide those around us.

Power of Change.

The story of Bilal inspires us to continue to seek greater understanding and knowledge of the world around us. Knowledge and the freedom it brings has more power to change the world than any chain or sword ever could. Bilal sought the power to change his own circumstances through knowledge and training. We must also be open and willing to accept new ways of thinking if we hope to change the world for the better.

Power of Faith.

The story of Bilal teaches us to believe that the ability to overcome great obstacles exists within each of us. Whether you believe in a higher power, or the strength of the human spirit, we all rely on our internal beliefs to push us through difficulties in our own lives. When you allow your belief to lift the heavy stones that have been placed upon you just as Bilal did, you find that the limits you previously put upon yourself no longer exist.

Power of Freedom.

The story of Bilal reminds us that there is nothing more powerful than the human spirit and that we all have the same basic natural rights that can never be taken or given away. It teaches us to embrace our inner strength and cast off the chains within ourselves. To embrace freedom is to live without fear of the chains others may try to place around you.

For young children, Halloween night is one of the best of the year. But trick-or-treating can be dangerous if kids and parents aren’t careful. Families can visit participating stores at Round Rock Premium Outlets and collect treats for a fun and  safe trick-or-treating experience on October 31.

Calling all ghouls and goblins! Costumed children under 12 are invited to join Round Rock Premium Outlets for a Center-wide Trick-or-Treating event from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, October 31. Families can enjoy collecting treats from participating retailers throughout the center for a safe and fun event*. Participating stores will be denoted by a special pumpkin decal on their front doors.

*While Supplies Last


Tuesday, October 31
10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Round Rock Premium Outlets
4401 North IH-35
Round Rock, TX 78664

Please call 512.863.6688 or visit www.simon.com. Area shoppers looking for the latest deals, contests and event information can also visit www.facebook.com/roundrockpremiumoutlets, www.twitter.com/roundrockpo, or www.instagram.com/roundrockpo.

JIGSAW is bringing back the iconic blood drive to save more lives than ever and Lionsgate is partnering with We Are Blood, the sole local source of blood for a ten-county area in Central Texas since 1952.

Donate blood at the donation center on 4300 N. Lamar Blvd on October 20th from 8am-5pm and receive a free ticket (while supplies last) to see JIGSAW in theaters October 27. Courtesy of Lionsgate and Atom Tickets.

Connect on Facebook here as an easy and convenient way for you to RSVP and receive reminders and updates about the blood drive as well as share with your friends!

The SAW blood drive has been a tradition since the first SAW movie became a record-breaking franchise in 2004. Past campaigns have showcased vintage nurses as the blood drive ambassadors. Public support has been overwhelming, leading to incredible participation.
To date, 120,000 pints have been donated and 360,000 lives have been saved.


Have you heard about The Hive? It’s a really cool place in Austin opening on October 23rd. A co-working, child care, coffee & beer kind of place. Sounds like a dream for remote workers & parents who need to get away.

Here are some more details about The Hive you need to know:

How it works
Open Seating: We also have a beautiful cafe area with cafe tables, bar top, and lounge area and any and all are welcome to visit or work in that area at no charge. We are also lucky enough to have a beautiful outdoor area under a shaded pecan tree with picnic tables and toys for your kiddos that you’d like to keep with you while you visit/work.

CoWorking Rooms: We are also preparing a board room that will be rentable hourly for conference meetings, as well as a room with 5 designated desks rentable monthly. We’ll wrap up the final touches on those rooms within the next week or two so stay tuned for more info on those.

Child Supervision: We have 20 spots available in the supervised childcare area, so please  reserve a spot online! Please remember that we are NOT a full-time licensed childcare facility, so some rules apply:

  • You must remain on-site while your child is in our care.
  • We will call or text when a diaper needs changing or a potty break is needed.
  • Children may only stay up to 4 hours per day / 12 hours per week.

Hours: We will be open from 8am – 5pm Monday – Friday and 8am – 3pm Saturday (with Sunday reserved for parties and special events) but we will adjust as we see fit.  Since this is such a unique business model, we won’t know what our customers need until we are open for a while.


Come on out with your 2-legged and 4-legged companions for a fun filled day at the 10th Annual Dogtoberfest Austin at The Domain! The annual fundraiser supports local dog-rescue organizations. In 2016, over 6,000 people and their canine companions attended the event.

Dogtoberfest Austin includes more than 50 pet-related vendor booths, a silent auction, a canine costume contest, wiener dog races, pet portraits and pet-related demonstrations. Prior to the day’s activities, the sixth annual DogtoberTROT race throughout The Domain II starts at 9 a.m.

Guests can purchase a $20 ticket for access to the VIP Tent from 10am-4pm (re-entry with wristband allowed), one drink ticket, fajita buffet, and soft drinks! A limited amount of spaces are available, and tickets are first come, first serve.

Dogtoberfest Austin is an Austin based, 501c3 non-profit organization, created for the purpose of instilling awareness about dog rescue, as well as raising much needed moneys for local dog rescue organizations. The organization has no paid staff and all the proceeds benefit local dog rescue organizations.

Saturday, October 21
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Registration begins 8 a.m.
Race begins 9 a.m.

Domain II, between Dick’s Sporting Goods & Dillard’s
11410 Century Oaks Terrace
Austin, TX 78758

General Admission: FREE
VIP Tent Access: $20

Registration is $30 for each team (consisting of 1 human & 1 canine), $10 per additional members under 12, $30 for any additional Trotter over 12.

For more information please visit http://dogtoberfestaustin.org/ or http://www.simon.com/mall/the-domain. Area shoppers looking for the latest deals, contests and event information can also visit www.facebook.com/TheDomainAustin.

SYFY and Alamo Drafthouse are partnering to present the SYFY25 Screening Series, a fun-filled retrospective of genre classics to celebrate the network’s upcoming 25th anniversary.

As part of that screening series, they’ve put together another amazing screening event: EVIL DEAD 2. In the woods. With America’s finest leading chin, Bruce Campbell, in attendance.

EVIL DEAD 2 is celebrating its 30 birthday, this year, and in honor of that momentous occasion, they’re bringing two great tastes that taste great together for an unforgettable nerve-shatteringly immersive cinematic experience!

Sure, you’ve seen EVIL DEAD 2 (more than a few times, we’re guessing). But have you ever watched it with Ash himself, live and in-person… in the terrifying pitch-black of actual spooky old WOODS?! “Groovy” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Your ticket not only includes Sam Raimi’s masterpiece of slapstick terror projected in all its brutal and hilarious glory on the big screen but alsoyour very own copy of Bruce’s new book, HAIL TO THE CHIN (every copy of which will be generously provided by Austin’s own BookPeople) with a chance to get it signed by the King himself — plus other gory-good surprises we can’t reveal just yet.

What are you waiting for? Get tickets here!

In honor of two epic films screening this Memorial Day weekend, Alamo Drafthouse Austin is pleased to announced the return of a much-requested favorite: Alamo Drafthouse Boat Parties.

On Saturday, May 27th, abandon all hopes of boredom for all ye brave enough to join the crew of the Alamo Drafthouse for the return of the greatest parrrrrrrrrty the high seas have ever known: The PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Boat Party Adventure on May 27th.

With a new Captain Jack adventure on the horizon we couldn’t pass up this opportunity for more adventure on the high seas (actually on Lady Bird Lake) filled with treasures beyond yer wildest dreams, plentiful grog, and pirate booty that shows no sign of stopping,

Tickets includes a day of pirate pandemonium. It starts on dry land with a screening of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, then shoves off onto the sea (of Lady Bird Lake) for untold pirate adventures.

Then, on Memorial Day, May 29th, Alamo Drafthouse, Golden Hornet Composer Laboratory, and LOLA (Local Opera Local Artists) invite lovers of opera and adventure to attend an epic FITZCARRALDO Boat Party. The afternoon begins at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz with a special 35mm screening of writer/director Werner Herzog’s surreal epic of one man’s fevered dream of bringing opera to the jungle at any cost, FITZCARRALDO.

The evening continues with an unforgettable operatic voyage on scenic Lady Bird Lake. Enjoy a beautiful evening cruise featuring professional artists from Austin’s hottest new opera company.  Arias, duets, trios, quartets… all for you (and anyone who happens to be on the banks of Lady Bird Lake). Refreshments on board will be provided courtesy of Easy Tiger and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

Ticketing for both events are on sale now at Drafthouse.com.


Sat, May 27th
Lady Bird Lake
Mon, May 29th
Lady Bird Lake

NEA Chairman Jane Chu and Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet announced the eighth annual launch of Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve and their families, from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2017. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their community, especially after a military move. The list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/bluestarmuseums. This list will be updated throughout the summer as more museums sign up.

“The Blue Star Museums program is a great opportunity for the NEA to team up with local museums in every state in the nation to support our service members and their families,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “It means a lot to offer these families access to high-quality, budget-friendly opportunities to spend time together.”

Last summer, more than 900,000 military members and their families took advantage of free admission as part of Blue Star Museums, visiting not only fine arts museums, but also science museums, music museums, nature centers, and children’s museums.

Blue Star Families Chief Executive Officer Kathy Roth-Douquet says service members and their families look forward to the variety of participating Blue Star Museums each summer. “Whether they want to blast off at a science museum, take a walk through nature, or encounter animals at the aquarium, Blue Star Museums will help service members and their families create memories this summer,” said Roth-Douquet. “This fantastic collaboration with the NEA brings our local military and civilian communities together and offers families fun and enriching activities in their home towns. We are thrilled with the continued growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”

This year’s Blue Star Museums program welcomes many new participating museums, including the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia; the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame Museum in Memphis Tennessee; the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in Hagerman, Idaho; and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.

All summer long, Blue Star Museums will share stories through social media. Follow Blue Star Museums on Twitter @NEAarts and @BlueStarFamily, #bluestarmuseums, on Facebook, and read the NEA Art Works blog for weekly stories on participating museums and exhibits.

Museums that wish to participate in Blue Star Museums may contact bluestarmuseums@arts.gov, or Wendy Clark, NEA Director of Museums at clarkw@arts.gov.

Leadership support for Blue Star Families programming and promotional materials has been provided by MetLife Foundation. The effort to recruit museums has involved partnerships with the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Blanton Museum of Art
Elisabet Ney Museum
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
LBJ Presidential Library
Mexic-Arte Museum
Neill-Cochran House Museum
Texas Capitol Visitors-State Preservation Board
Texas Memorial Museum
Texas Military Forces Museum
Texas State Capitol-State Preservation Board
The Bullock Texas State History Museum
The Contemporary Austin
The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center
The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria
UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum

San Antonio:
Blue Star Contemporary
Briscoe Western Art Museum
Casa Navarro State Historic Site
McNay Art Museum
San Antonio Museum of Art
The Alamo
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures
Villa Finale: Museum & Gardens

Central Texas’ most well-known children’s theatre company, Pollyanna Theatre, a resident company of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, presents the world premiere of Playing Possum: A Trickster Tale from Mexico by Holly Hepp-Galvan. This new play, best suited for children ages 5-9, opens May 12 – 21 at the Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 West Riverside, Austin, TX 78704.

Long ago, possums didn’t look the way they do today. They were silky white and had beautiful tails with long, thick fur. And they loved to play tricks, particularly on poor Coyote. In this retelling of Mexican folklore, we follow Possum’s adventures with Coyote, Rabbit, Snake and Grandmother Turtle as they prepare for el gran fiesta when every animal gets to choose what they will look like forever. Along the way, Possum ends up playing one trick too many and he is called upon to save the world by bringing a chunk of the sun down to earth. Combined with Spanish language elements and traditional Mexican symbols, this play will have children laughing while they think about what it really means to be clever.

While the plot and characters in Playing Possum: A Trickster Tale from Mexico are drawn from several popular Mexican folktales, many cultures use traditional trickster and animal characters to explain human nature. The trickster figure in this play, Possum, will show kids the values of being clever and the consequences of being tricky. Children will also be able to discuss the power of storytelling, which was once only an oral tradition through which older generations passed down valuable life lessons. This play provides teachers and caregivers of Latino children an opportunity to connect by understanding their culture and expands the cultural knowledge of non-Latino children.

Parents, teachers and caregivers can download a free study guide to accompany the production by visiting http://www.pollyannatheatrecompany.org/teachers/lesson-plans/. The guide contains an overview of the play, educational objectives and pre/post discussion questions and activities. In addition to public performances, Playing Possum: A Trickster Tale from Mexico is also available for schools and camps throughout Central Texas.

WHEN: May 12 at 11:30 am, May 13 – 14 and 20 – 21 at 2:00 pm, May 15, 18, 19 at 9:30 am and 11:30 am

WHERE: Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center for the Performing Arts 701 W. Riverside Drive, Austin, TX  78704

TICKETS: Tickets range from $10 – $14. For weekend performances, tickets may be purchased online by visiting www.thelongcenter.org/event/playing-possum. For weekday performances, call (512) 743-7966 for tickets.